A match in the Dogfight Duals taught Scott Garoutte a worthwhile lesson last year. This year, he thinks there is no need to be schooled.
"Last year, I was looking ahead to my next match and got caught," he said. "Now, I know that everybody is looking to wrestle me, and I can't look past them."
Garoutte, a Moffat County High School senior, lost to Valley's Cameron Salazar in the semifinals of last year's Dogfight. It was one of two losses last year for the 215-pound state champion. After Salazar beat him, he didn't lose again.
This morning, Garoutte will start the Duals with three losses in the season already.
He thinks those setbacks have taught him enough.
"I came back to the wrestling room Monday and felt like a new wrestler," he said. "Before break, I was wrestling like I did my sophomore year. I'm more focused, and my goal is no more losses."
The Bulldogs will need to share Garoutte's focus early this morning. Their first dual is against Valley, and the wrestlers from Weld County are tough. The Vikings are the top-ranked team in Class 3A.
"They have three open weights," Moffat County coach Roman Gutierrez said. "But where they're tough, they're tough."
The Vikings have five wrestlers ranked in the top four in 3A. They were a last-minute addition to the tournament this week. But one team adding wasn't enough to make the tournament a two-day affair.
The past couple of years, the duals have been a two-day tournament, but fewer teams signed up this year.
"The wrestling season is one week shorter this year, so it made it harder for a couple of teams to schedule us," Gutierrez said. "The nice thing about this tournament is that we see a lot of different styles from around the state."
There are no other Class 4A schools coming to the tournament. Class 5A teams competing will be, Adams City, Denver East and Grand Junction Central. Florence will join Valley as a Class 3A representative, and Meeker is a 2A school.
The format for the tournament is an all-dual setup. There are five sessions, and each team will wrestle four times except Adams City and Valley. Those two teams will wrestle all five times.
"I'm not sure exactly how we'll decide the winner," Gutierrez said. "We'll probably just add up points from everybody's first four duals."
Moffat County will face every team except Meeker and Adams City.
"Meeker didn't want to wrestle us or Central since we're on their regular schedule," Gutierrez said about the second-ranked team in Class 2A.
The Bulldogs have the first session off and then will wrestle four straight duals against Valley, Central, Florence and Denver East.
"There are a lot of good kids we'll wrestle who we won't see again," Gutierrez said. "That's what makes this tournament fun for the spectators and for the kids."
The first session begins at 8:30 a.m.